Lawyers for Liberty is extremely concerned with the safety and welfare of Saudi Arabian writer Hamza Kashgari, 23, who was arrested last Thursday by the Malaysian police at KLIA while trying to board a plane to leave the country.

Hamza Kashgari was forced to flee Saudi Arabia after his twitter comments which had allegedly insulted Islam and Prophet Muhammad attracted condemnation and death threats.

According to the Daily Beast, these are Hamza Kashgari’s original tweets:

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he wrote in one tweet.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more,” he wrote in a second.

“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more,” he concluded in a third.

Although he had removed the tweets, and wrote an apology, asking forgiveness, the Saudi Arabian Council of Elders condemned him further and requested that he be put on trial and King Abdullah also issued an arrest order. He had also said that he had no intention to insult the Prophet.

The Malaysian government must not deport him to Saudi Arabia where he will certainly face further persecution, arrest and detention, a sham trial and the death penalty if convicted. Furthermore there is no extradition treaty between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

Lawyers for Liberty calls for the immediate release of Hamza Kashgari as he has not committed any criminal offence that Malaysia should be concerned with.  While he remains in the custody of the police, the government must ensure his safety and welfare and that he is not tortured or subjected to any degrading and inhuman treatment.

The Malaysian government must not sacrifice Hamza Kashgari in the name of diplomatic expediency and instead protect his right to claim asylum, provide him with full recourse and due process of the Malaysian law including a fair trial and access to legal counsel and UN High Commissioners for Refugees.

Most importantly, he must not be deported which will contravene international customary law that absolutely prohibits refoulement (deportation) of a person to a country where he will face further persecution.

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Lawyers for Liberty

10 February 2011